Archive for March, 2014

Let’s Talk about Breast Cancer Awareness

March 29, 2014

BreastScreen Australia



BreastScreen Australia offers a national mammographic breast cancer screening program for Australian women. Free mammograms are available every two years to all Australian women aged 40 and over who do not have any symptoms of breast disease.

Around 75% of all breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50. BreastScreen targets its program to women aged 50-69, because research shows that screening is most effective in detecting early breast cancer in women in this age group. Women in the target age group (50-69) receive a letter from BreastScreen every two years reminding them that they are due for a screening mammogram. Women aged 40-49 and 70 and over are eligible to attend the program, but do not receive reminder letters as they sit outside the target age group.

Following treatment for breast cancer, women are advised to have an annual mammogram as part of their follow-up care. In some states and territories, women who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer can return to the BreastScreen program five years after their diagnosis. In other states and territories, women are precluded from ever returning to BreastScreen for follow-up mammograms. Women who show symptoms of breast disease are also precluded or discouraged from attending BreastScreen services.

Many women have raised with us the inequity in not being able to access free mammograms through BreastScreen after their breast cancer diagnosis, particularly as many were receiving free mammograms through BreastScreen prior to their diagnosis. While there is a Medicare rebate for mammograms, many private imaging clinics charge more than the Medicare Schedule Fee, resulting in women who use these services having to pay the balance of the fee charged. A 2009 survey of 160 BCNA members found that 63% of women having follow-up mammograms incurred an out-of-pocket cost for them, with the majority paying between $51 and $150 per mammogram. Women who did not incur an out of pocket cost told us they had their mammograms at a public hospital. Some women may also be bulk-billed.

In October 2005, the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC), which comprises the federal Health Minister and the Health Ministers from every state and territory, commissioned an expert committee to undertake a major evaluation of BreastScreen Australia. The committee’s report, the BreastScreen Australia Evaluation Report, was released by the Australian Health Ministers in September 2009. The report made 19 recommendations for the program, including that women who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer should be able to return to the BreastScreen program five years after their diagnosis. To date, the Health Ministers have not provided a response to the report or indicated whether any of the recommendations may be accepted and implemented.

Women with no symptoms of breast disease

  • BCNA supports the provision of a free mammographic screening program for all Australian women aged 40 and over, and encourages all eligible women to participate.
  • All women in the BreastScreen target age range should receive reminder letters when their bi-annual screening mammograms are due.
  • Women outside the BreastScreen target age range should be given the option to receive reminder letters when their bi-annual screening mammograms are due.
  • Measures should be continued to improve the breast screening participation rate amongst women in the target age group (50-69).
  • Measures should be continued to improve the breast screening participation rate amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Women with a previous diagnosis of breast cancer and women at high risk of developing breast cancer due to family history

  • BCNA supports the sub-recommendation in recommendation 11 of the BreastScreen Australia Evaluation Report that would allow women who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer the option to return to BreastScreen for annual screening mammograms from five years after their diagnosis.
  • BCNA supports recommendation 19 of the BreastScreen Australia Evaluation Report which calls for pilot or demonstration studies to be undertaken to explore whether BreastScreen Australia should provide individualised surveillance post-treatment of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer for less than five years, and individualised surveillance of women at a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to strong family history.BreastScreen Australia Evaluation Report.
  • BCNA calls on the Australian Health Ministers to provide a response to the BreastScreen Australia Evaluation Report and to accept recommendations as outlined in BCNA’s Response to BreastScreen Australia Evaluation Report, 9 November 2009.

More information

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Spicy Buffalo Wings

March 27, 2014


Why Australia doubled its exercise guidelines?

March 25, 2014

Australians are sitting down and lying around so much, experts have doubled the recommended amount of exercise and say we need to get up out of our chairs – even if we already do “enough” exercise.

More and more studies are finding links between “sedentary behaviour” and weight gain, type 2 diabetes, poor muscle tone, heart disease and dying earlier. The new guidelines are the first to explicitly address our love of lounging and our habit of sitting at work.

The latest advice is to ‘mix and match’ a range of activities, and to think of exercise as simple habits that can be built into your day.


What are the new guidelines?

The Government’s new guidelines are called the Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines.

Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.

Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.

Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.

Do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.

Minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting. Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

What is ‘sedentary behaviour’?

Being ‘sedentary’ means sitting or lying down for long periods (not including sleeping). So, a person can do enough physical activity to meet the guidelines and still be considered sedentary if they spend a large amount of their day sitting or lying down at work, at home, for study, for travel or during their leisure time.

ABC Health and Wellbeing’s Claudine Ryan explains:

Experts say we’re sedentary on average for seven to 10 hours a day (and this doesn’t include our time spent sleeping). Even if you are meeting, or exceeding, the recommended 60 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity, you can still be considered sedentary. (This group of people is sometimes referred to as ‘active couch potatoes’.)

While researchers are still trying to understand exactly why sedentary behaviour has such a negative effect on our health, it appears to be related to how our bodies process fats and sugars. There are enzymes involved in this process that are released when certain muscles contract during standing. When you sit for prolonged periods the production and activity of these enzymes appears to slow down.

Q&A: putting the guidelines into practice

Professor Wendy Brown from the University of Queensland’s School of Human Movement Studies was lead author on the report that led to the new guidelines. We asked her a few questions about the reasons for the new recommendations, and how she sticks to them in her own life.

Why have you included ‘sedentary behaviour’ (sitting or lying down, except for sleeping) in the new guidelines?

Two main reasons: 1. There is growing evidence that too much sitting is bad for health. Specifically, when muscles are not moving, metabolites – especially fats – are not cleared from the bloodstream as quickly. High circulating levels of triglycerides – fats – eventually lead to metabolic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The latest evidence is that the effects worsen when daily sitting time is more than seven hours. 2. We figure that if people sit less, then unless they just stand still (unlikely) they will be moving, which is good for them! My personal view is: it is all about moving more.

If more than half of Australian adults are already not meeting the old guidelines, why have you recommended people do even more exercise than before?

Our latest data say that more than half of young adults meet the old guidelines and about half of mid-age people do. But on average Australians are gaining weight at the rate of about 500 grams per year, so we all need to move more. Increasing weight leads to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, arthritis, back pain, the list goes on. And of the half who do meet the old guidelines, half of them do enough to meet the new ones. So if one quarter of the population can do this – it is not a big ask?

What sorts of things do you do when you’re at work, to avoid sitting for too long?

I have a standing desk and try to stand most of the day. I walk across the campus to get coffee and/or lunch. Sometimes I do walking meetings – it is a nice campus – but at the moment it is too hot. I have a bottle of water and I drink it as it makes me take a break to go to the loo. I go 30 metres to the printer! A friend of mine stands up to answer the phone and stands up every time someone walks in. I am already standing so I can’t do that; in fact I often sit down when students come in to discuss something.

Can we compensate for a lot of sitting by doing a lot of exercise outside work hours?

The jury is out on this one. Some would say sitting is an independent risk factor – something that raises the risk of disease by itself, without other factors coming into play – but this view is being questioned. My take on it is that if you sit for 10 hours a day, then doing 30 minutes of walking won’t help much in terms of ‘cleaning out’ the blood vessels, but maybe if you went to a vigorous aerobics class for an hour then the compensation idea takes shape. Look at athletes who train hard for two hours each morning then lie about all day – they are fit and healthy. So yes, it is my view that you can compensate but the ‘experiments’ have not been done to answer that precisely yet. Data from cohort studies – like our Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health – are certainly showing combined effect of sitting and inactivity are very bad.

Is it better to do big bursts of exercise, or to spread it out over the week?

Tricky question – I told you this was complicated. We are proposing that exercise is like medicine, but nice medicine! So we need to take a dose every day. Getting back to those lipids – if you ‘clean them out’ every day they won’t have chance to be deposited on the walls of the blood vessels. Having said that, a big burst of vigorous exercise might work like a hose and clean things up? Seriously, evidence shows that ‘weekend warriors’ – those who only exercise on the weekend – do reap benefits, but there are very few studies. So yes – weekend golf for five hours (that’s your 300 minutes!) is great, but a little every day would be even better. Hence the second guideline: try to do something every day.

How do you personally make sure you meet the exercise guidelines?

I bike to and from work – it is 15 minutes each way – so that gets to the lower end of the range (30 mins) on weekdays. Some days I ride to work the long way round – that is 45 mins, then 15 mins back or vice versa. So that’s the hour. I try to do that twice a week. If it is raining I walk instead – it takes 35 minutes each way. So I get my ‘base’ activity through transport to work. To be honest that is all I do some weeks when I am really busy at work (always!?) But I do try to do a longer ride at the weekend – maybe two hours, but I am very slow, and I try to fit in dancing classes whenever I can – maybe one evening or a weekend class each week.

In what ways does having more muscle benefit our bodies?

More muscle means all those metabolites – products of metabolism, for example fats – are taken up and used. The more we work, the bigger the muscles, the better we remove metabolites from the blood vessels. There are receptors on the muscle walls that are very important for regulating blood sugar and therefore preventing diabetes. No muscles equals no receptors equals increases in insulin and related endocrine problems.

Not everyone can get to the gym twice a week for a weights session. What sorts of things do you do for muscle strengthening?

I go to pilates and yoga classes as often as I can – maybe once, sometimes twice a week. And if I can’t get there I try to do strengthening exercises at home while I am watching TV: sit-ups, that sort of thing. Last weekend I clipped the hedge with hand shears, not an electric cutter. It is quite big so I think my arms had a bit of a workout. Gardening is a very under-rated form of exercise – especially if you are digging and pushing a barrow of soil or mulch.

Is it ok to be overweight if you’re fit or should you try get your weight down as well?

Being overweight (ie BMI 25-30) is fine if you are fit, but being obese (BMI 30+) is never healthy.

If you are overweight I would say focus on being fit and don’t worry about weight.

We hear that weight loss is mostly about diet, not exercise. Why should people focus so much on moving?

Because moving uses energy, not only during the exercise but afterwards as well. If people use dieting to lose weight they are more likely to maintain the weight loss if they increase their exercise levels as well. The new guidelines are not about weight loss but the evidence suggests you should do an hour a day of exercise to lose weight. Obviously, the more you want to lose the more you must move and the less you must eat.

Have you ever had a time when you couldn’t do exercise, and if so how did you get back into it?

I travel a lot for work and often there are periods when I can’t ride my bike, so I try to walk as much as I can, wherever I can. Last year I was clocking more than 20,000 pedometer steps a day on a work trip by walking everywhere. It is difficult to move much on long-haul flights but many airports around the world have opportunities to walk miles between connecting flights, especially if you walk instead of taking the little train – if it is allowed, as it is Hong Kong for example.

Following illness or injury I mostly try to walk or swim to get back into things.

By Cristen Tilley; Illustrations by Lucy Fahey

Teaching Fitness is a Real Career

March 23, 2014

Nowadays, we, the sandwich generation, are finding many doors closed. It used to be a given that forking up a hefty fortune for a solid school could land ya a pretty sweet job in A) finance, B) law, C) medicine, or D) as a saucy housewife with a hubby who would put a DAMN rock on it. But times have changed. My fellow law school grads are jobless and saddled with student loans. My doctor clients are closing their doors because medical reimbursements have dramatically declined. Finance has also been sucking lately. But what about….fitness? Is this tantalizing option actually a career path? Verdict: For a talented few, YES.

is fitness instruction a legitimate career

Preamble: The Motivation Behind This Madness

I recently gave one of my favorite fitness instructors a lift home. We got to chatting about life, fitness, relationships, mo-money-mo-problems, family, hos-in-different-area-codes, etcetera. And then I learned an upsetting truth: This man, who is my absolute fitness idol, is shunned from his significant other’s family because they don’t want their baby dating what they perceive to be a “lowly fitness instructor”. Apparently, they equate this career with someone who has low intelligence and shallow potential.

I was shocked. Appalled, actually. I mean, I’ve had my fair share of “daddy doesn’t approve” situations as well, but usually that’s because I was bringing home the town’s gas station attendant or some pot-smothered “I go to every Phish show” dude. But this was something different. How could someone not recognize the talent of a guy who has already climbed his way to the top of the NYC fitness pyramid? My stomach hurt.

This article is for those of the mindset that “anyone can teach fitness” and it is not a viable or respectable career path. NEWS FLASH: Fitness can be an amazing and deeply rewarding career, and even lucrative for those who put in the work and play their cards right.

Here are some things I’d like to clarify.

1) Can you be an idiot and teach fitness?

Yes. You can be an idiot and do most things. Take a look around your own workplace, no matter the industry. Is every person a talented genius? If so, congratulations, you’re the idiot. Or if you work for a magical happy unicorn company, please tell us about it in the comments below so we can quit our jobs and come work for you.

The sad truth is that you can be a successful IFI (“Idiot Fitness Instructor”) in the short run if you are hot, generally charismatic, and talented in the art of mimicry.

But not in the long-term. There are plenty of One-Year-Wonders in the fitness scene. They seem awesome at first, and then you realize that their classes are the same schtick over and over again, they know close to nothing about exercise physiology, lack authenticity and do not inspire.

These are the people who give fitness a bad name. But this subculture of fakers exists in every profession.

2) Is being hot the main job requirement for fitness professionals?

Um, no.

pretty bimbo fitness instructor suck

Even if fitness instructors experience initial success based solely on their clients’ drool, without skills and talent these instructors will soon be replaced by the next hotter thing. There are unfortunately a lot of these “flashfry” phenomena in the industry, but you need to be more than just a hot piece to succeed.

You also need to change more than your clients’ muscles to keep your product brilliant. Sustainable fitness careers are built upon knowledge, creativity and the ability to connect and sustain relationships.

3) But don’t fitness instructors just follow a formula?

Wouldn’t that be convenient! Some programs DO have instructors following a formula (for example, Zumba, Les Mills, proprietary studio formulas). But to stand out from the crowd, the top instructors almost always take some liberties and push the limits of those formulas to create something new. The most successful fitness instructors take on the heavy responsibility of creating a new experience every. damn. day.

Instructors are not selling a pre-made product. They can’t recycle yesterday’s workout. Teaching always involves trying new strategies, splashing ideas up on the wall and seeing if they stick. The best instructors feel personal responsibility for the safety and well-being of every client, and also feel a responsibility to deliver and inspire. This is a task that may be easy once, but gets exponentially harder once you have clients who come back day after day expecting renewed greatness.

Instructors also often don’t get credit for the amount of time that goes into a class. Much more time goes into the planning of the daily lesson than the actual hour in the classroom. Playlists, class structure, timing, corrections, lighting, props, cues, the list goes on. Not to mention setup and cleanup, which need to happen but also take away from time spent getting to know clients.

how do fitness instructors spend their time

These guys are constantly mixing different class components to develop the perfect experience. The best are constantly creating, constantly striving for something better. It is a LOT of work.

4) But don’t fitness instructors deliver the same product to everyone in the class?

Not the ones who make it big.

The best teachers think on their feet, analyzing each individual in the crowd from the get-go and teaching class accordingly. Even if the class format is set in stone, the masters find a way to sneakily tailor the experience by changing up voice intonation, varying their own energy, or maybe even just giving a little extra eye contact to that guy in the back who hadn’t been to the gym in 3 months and is clearly paralyzed with fear.

Every class requires an initial diagnosis, assessing the demographic with different needs. What does each client want? Weight loss? Rehab for an injury? Building new muscle mass? Toning? Stability? Focus? Emotional motivation? Camaraderie? Energy? Fun? Stress relief? Instructors can’t sit down with each student before class, so they need to intuit these needs and deliver a product that makes everyone happy.

5) Why else should I respect a fitness instructor?

  • Fitness instructors are both their own product and their own business. They’re not just employees; in fact, they are often contractors. But regardless of their tax forms, every instructor essentially runs his own business. Studios may help promote classes, but it’s up to the teachers to build a following and get students coming back to class week after week. The teachers who treat their careers like a business are the ones who rise from the ranks most quickly.
  • This is not your typical 9-5 job. Weekends? Time to work. Early AM? Time to work. Happy hour? Time to work. Holidays? You betcha. And even when they’re not teaching, this is a seven-days-per-week job, almost round the clock. Reaching out to clients, building relationships, planning classes, negotiating schedules and contracts, subbing, tracking class attendance, being all over social media like white on rice (for you it’s a hobby, for them it’s a job).
  • They have immense pressure to stay on the wagon. Instructors are often not even able to afford themselves the luxury of a “cheat day”. Rest is important, but feeding the mouth is also important. Not to mention the pressure to look the part. Some instructors perform the class along with students, but others teach formats or styles that don’t allow for this – so these guys are clocking their own personal hours at the gym in addition to their teaching time. Not to mention the fact that the best instructors are constantly trying out new trends and instructors themselves to stay inspired and current. This job takes a huge mental and physical toll on the body.
  • Sick days? Think again. If you work a desk job, you probably have a certain number of paid sick days. For the majority of teachers out there, if you’re sick, you’re not going to be paid for that class you didn’t teach. Not to mention the risk of injury/accident.

6) Have I forgotten anything else important?

Oh yeah. Fitness instructors change fucking lives for a living. To a lay person, a class might just be something to fill an hour of the day. But those of us whose lives have been changed by fitness, we know that most instructors are in it for the thrill of making us LOVE ourselves. They empower. They entertain. They make a bad day 1000 times better and they do it by showing us what WE can do, not doing it for us. They’re teaching us how to fish, not serving us sushi on a silver platter.

Let’s keep it real.

Look, I went to law school. I got the grades. I did the internships and the externships and the Law Journals and the Research Assistant positions. And what did I get when I graduated?  Anxiety, about $250,000 in student loan debt, and a job that made me incredibly unhappy. Was I “compensated” well for it? Unclear. And I was one of the “lucky” few who actually got a job. Is there potential for me to make a ton of money in the cookie-cutter field? Yes. But what do I do in my spare time, what makes me happy? Fitness.

If you’re like me, maybe you should start measuring success in happiness first. And for a lucky few with the talent and the tenacity, fitness can even be lucrative (we’ll get to that in another article).

abraham lincoln happy as they make their minds up

The truth is, there is a lot of potential for those who really persevere in fitness. The ones who make it deserve all of our respect and admiration, no less than the top attorneys, doctors, CPAs, financial wizards, journalists, and professors. These people not only inspire us by doing what they love, but also change our bodies and lives on a daily basis. They fix people before doctors and psychiatrists have to. They lengthen lives. They make us happy and healthy.

What in Dodge could be more honorable than that?


Article sources from

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Raspberry & Pistachio Semifreddo

March 19, 2014


Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Chopped Bok Choy & Steak Salad with Olive Dressing

March 12, 2014

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week - Chopped Bok Choy & Steak Salad with Olive Dressing

Seniors Week March 17th – 24th @ Coffs Coast Health Club

March 11, 2014

Coffs Coast Health Club Seniors & BoomersWhats On During Seniors Week at Coffs Coast Health Club

This is our 5th year being involved in NSW Seniors Week celebrations.
Coffs Coast Health Club has over 200 senior/baby boomers members who actively use the health club.  During Seniors Week 2014 we will be offering:

FREE access to all new Seniors from 17th-24th March to try a class or other activities provided:

  • a mini seated massage,    a health check,   a morning tea, a seminar,   a discounted Seniors First and/or CPR aid course,   membership discounts

FREE entry into our Seniors Week Raffle to win 3 months membership and a 60 minute massage. One ticket per person can be collected during week from Reception.  Raffle will be drawn at the Seminar – be there to win!


Timetable of Activities (enquire at reception for massage and health check times):

  • Mon 8.00am Baby Boomers Fit Strong Class
  • Tue 8.00am   Baby Boomers Circuit Class
  • Wed 8.00am Baby Boomers Fit Strong Class
  • Wed 9.30am Seniors Morning Tea
    Venue: JJs Lagoon Cafe, Sawtell Nursery, Hogbin Drive Pls book at reception
  • Thu 8.00am   Baby Boomers Circuit Class
  • Thu 9.30am    Actively Ageing Seminar with very actively ageing Baby Boomer Jacqui Jarratt
    Venue:  next door to Coffs Coast Health Club at the Sports Club
  • Fri 8.00am     Baby Boomers Core Flex Class
  • Fri 12noon     Discounted Senior First Aid and/or CPR course
    Venue:  Coffs Coast Health Club Group Exercise Room ( Pls book and pay at reception)

Call Jacqui on 66586222 for more information!
Invite your neighbours, acquaintances and friends to

Live Life! at Coffs Coast Health Club

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Bacon Brussels Sprouts with Brown Butter Vinaigrette

March 6, 2014


Testosterone Therapy … is it the answer for you?

March 4, 2014

Testosterone therapy has rapidly become a cornerstone of the emerging hormone replacement therapy market, seeing dramatic increases in the last decade. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, prescription of testosterone therapy has risen three fold. More and more men – and even women – are seeking testosterone replacement therapy to address aging woes, such as weight gain, muscle loss and low energy.

The emerging trend has led drug manufacturers and health industry experts to push testosterone pellets, injections, pills, patches, gels and creams of varying quality on an unsuspecting public. Just as the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) raised fears over hormone replacement therapy among women, a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association has men reconsidering the cost of their virility.

But, much like the WHI scare, the trouble is not testosterone therapy itself; it is the expertise with which it is administered and the quality of the product and delivery method. Failure to get adequate testing and not seeking certified medical experts in hormone therapy can result in a very rocky path when it comes to hormone management.

Hot trends, like the current mass appeal of testosterone therapy, cause an upsurge of inferior products and administration by less than qualified individuals for a quick buck. Television, radio, magazine and billboard advertisements promise miracles from testosterone therapy. Online quizzes designed by marketers point to testosterone as the solution to all your woes. And this may be the case for some men and women, but the truth is that not every man or woman needs to be on testosterone therapy. Weight gain, sleepless nights, low energy and other woes of aging can occur for a variety of reasons.

Physicians that truly specialize in hormones and hormone replacement therapy know that comprehensive lab testing and thorough consultations are essential to determining why certain individuals are struggling with age-related concerns and what the best treatment solution may be. Careful monitoring of hormone levels and adjustments are necessary every three to six months. Hormones are not safe for use at the discretion of the consumer – hormones affect nearly every reaction in the body, meaning great care and expertise is vital to optimal outcomes.

How do you know when testosterone therapy is safe?

Research continues to determine if the benefits outweigh the risk for the majority of the population. Most major medical organizations now agree that hormone replacement therapy is the best treatment for women suffering from menopause, but these industry leaders urge women to seek treatment from certified professionals and avoid over-the-counter drugs claiming to be effective hormone therapy.

If you have been experiencing signs and symptoms you believe are related to low testosterone or aging, use this list to guide you to a solution that is safe and will offer you effective outcomes for your lifelong health:

• Recognize marketing as marketing. Learn the difference between good marketing and prescribed needs. An online quiz cannot accurately diagnose your issues, and some websites present fiction as fact. Look for peer-reviewed studies from major medical journals.

• Find an expert. You wouldn’t go to your dentist for an oil change any more than you would see your mechanic for a medical check-up. If you seek hormone therapy, get treatment from a physician that specializes in hormones and hormone therapy. Advanced training and certification in the field are essential to making the right diagnosis and delivery of treatment options.

• Get comprehensive lab testing. Blood draws, urine samples and saliva testing are the most common methods for assessing various hormone levels. Each of these body fluids offer varying markers that indicate an imbalance. Have your tests evaluated by an expert specializing in hormone therapy and don’t be afraid to seek second opinions.

• Discuss your symptoms. Lab results are one thing, but symptoms are another piece of the puzzle. Make sure your physician spends time with you discussing your symptoms and correlating those with your lab results. Your health is highly personal, so your treatment plan should be equally personalized.

Ask lots of questions and understand all the risks and benefits of your treatment plan – for the sake of your health and safety.


Dr. Jennifer Landa is Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD, the article first appeared at: March 3, 2014

Menopause, Weight Gain, & Exercise Tips

March 2, 2014

ladyMenopause and weight gain. Do they always have to go hand in hand? It may seem that way, especially because gaining weight is so common after menopause. In fact, about 30% of women aged 50 to 59 are not just overweight, but obese. Here’s what you need to know about the risks of weight gain and how exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off after menopause.

The Risks of Weight Gain After Menopause

Many of the risks of weight gain are well known: high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, to name a few. Extra fat at your waistline increases these risks still more. Unfortunately, a bigger waistline is more likely after menopause. If you now have a waist measurement of more than 35 inches — it’s time to take steps to reverse this trend.

Why Weight Gain Often Occurs After Menopause

What is it about menopause that makes it so challenging to keep off the weight? It is likely a combination of factors related to menopause and aging.

The impact of estrogen. In animal studies, estrogen appears to help regulate body weight. With lower estrogen levels, lab animals tend to eat more and be less physically active. Reduced estrogen may also lower metabolic rate, the rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy. It is possible the same thing happens with women when estrogen levels decrease after menopause. In fact, some evidence suggests that estrogen hormone therapy increases a woman’s resting metabolic rate. This might help slow weight gain. Lack of estrogen may also cause the body to use starches and glucose less effectively (insulin resistance), thus increasing fat storage and making it more difficult to lose weight.

Other age-related factors. As women age, many other changes occur that contribute to weight gain. For example:

  • You are less likely to exercise. In fact, 60% of adults are not active enough and this increases with age.
  • You lose muscle mass, which decreases your resting metabolism, making it easier to gain weight.
  • Your aerobic capacity declines. This is the rate at which you can use up energy during exercise. To use the same energy as in the past and achieve weight loss, you may need to increase the amount of time and intensity you’re exercising, no matter what your past activity levels were.

How Exercise Helps With Weight After Menopause

Exercise is effective at influencing the levels of total body fat and abdominal fat. The more active you are, the less weight you are likely to gain. A National Institutes of Health review showed that people who participated in aerobic activities every day for 10 or more minutes had 6 fewer inches around the waistline compared to people who did not exercise. And, exercising while you’re in the process of losing weight — as well as after you’ve lost it — may be critical to maintaining weight loss.

Other Benefits of Exercise After Menopause

It’s also good to remember that exercise has many benefits separate from weight loss and fitness. The list of exercise benefits is too long to include, but here are a few benefits that are especially helpful after menopause. Exercise helps:

  • Lower risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce risk of metabolic syndrome, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Improves insulin resistance
  • Keep joints and muscles strong
  • Maintain good bowel function
  • Relieve depression and anxiety
  • Improve overall health


Good Exercise Choices After Menopause

Which types of exercise can best help you lose and maintain weight after menopause?

  • Strength training or a weight resistance exercise program helps build muscle mass and improve metabolism. Strength training also helps maintain bone mass. Because you lose muscle mass as you age, add this to your workouts, if you haven’t before. Try doing this two or three times a week. Examples of strength training include weight machines, dumbbells, exercise bands, yoga, and gardening.
  • Low-impact aerobics increases heart and respiratory rates. Walking is one of the best choices because you can do it anywhere, anytime. Other examples of aerobic exercises include swimming, cycling, aerobics, tennis, and dance. Exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes most, if not all, days of the week.
  • Whenever you can, add activity to your day. Wash the car, play hide and seek with your grandchildren, get in a game of ping pong.


Other Exercise Tips for Ensuring Success

Before you begin exercising:

  • Talk to your doctor about a new exercise program. Choose activities you enjoy so you’ll stick with your workouts.
  • Find an exercise partner to help you stay motivated.
  • Buy supportive shoes — the right ones for your activity.
  • Pick a start date and start.

After you begin exercising:

  • Allow at least 10 minutes to warm up before starting to exercise rigorously. To do this, choose an activity that gently works major muscles.
  • Before you work out, stretch the muscles that will absorb most of the shock of your exercise routine.
  • Stop, and let your doctor know if you experience any new pain while exercising.
  • Gradually increase the distance, length, or intensity of your workout.
  • Mix it up. Do different exercises to keep from getting bored and keep your body challenged.

For the best fitness results, combine your exercise efforts with good nutrition. Here are just a few tips:

  • Choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
  • Stay away from processed foods.
  • Keep a food diary or explore programs for your computer or apps for your cellphone to help you monitor your caloric intake.
  • Don’t eat too late in the evening.
  • When you eat out, take half the serving home.
  • Eat smaller amounts, but more often.

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